Okay, all you adventurous Dangerous Minds readers—come take a ride with me to early 1970s Paris to witness the birth of “space rock” band Rockets. As this post does not include any herbal cerebral enhancement other than the words I’ve written about Rockets and the out-of-sight images of the band dressed up like disco versions of KISS’ Ace Frehley, you might want to take a moment to enhance your perception before continuing with a lil’ “entertainment insurance.” Of course, this is merely a recommendation and should not be taken seriously (yes it should) as I don’t advocate the use of drugs, alcohol or other party favors (yes I do) to help one fully appreciate a visual/auditory experience such as this. Half-assed disclaimers out of the way, let’s learn more about France’s electro-extraterrestrials, Rockets.
In the early 70s, the band was playing bars sans space gear and calling themselves “Crystal” until sometime later in the mid-70s when they decided to change it to “Rocket Men,” known also as “Rocketters” (and then Rockets). Not to be confused with long-time Detroit rock band the Rockets, Rockets went all in with their kooky outer-space look with all five members painting their skin silver and decked out in futuristic-looking spacesuits. Their live shows were as spectacular as you might imagine a gig by a bunch of French disco-loving aliens would be. And more. There were of course lasers, vocoders (a type of “talking synthesizer” that modulates speech) and Rockets vocalist Christian Le Bartz would often regale the audience by spraying them with sparks and smoke that spewed from a sort of cannon gun while he robotically marched around on stage.
So what about the music of Rockets? Well, it’s pretty groovy if you dig Krautrock, DEVO and disco (because, who doesn’t), and for a short time the band was very commercially successful. After releasing their first self-titled album in 1976, Rockets would start making a name for themselves thanks to their live shows and their notorious television appearances. Their second album, On the Road Again, sent Rockets touring across the world including stops in the U.S. for the first time. In 1979 they released Plasteroid, which sold over 200,000 copies in Italy alone. The follow-up to Plasteriod, 1980’s Galaxy would eclipse this achievement by selling over a million copies worldwide. Despite this success, by 1983 the group began to dissolve starting with the departure of Le Bartz and drummer Alain Groetzinger. Bassist Gerard L’Her would say farewell a year later in 1984.
Far-out footage of Rockets performing numbers from Galaxy and On the Road Again isposted below as well as some surreal photos of the band in their intergalactic getups from back in the day.
A close look at Rockets’ vocalist Christian Le Bartz in action.
The curious cover of ‘Plasteroid.’
Rockets performing “On the Road Again.”
“Electric Delight” from ‘Galaxy.’
“Some other place, some other time,” 1982.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Spotnicks : ‘60s Space Rockers From The Planet Sweden
We aren’t the robots (yet): Early Kraftwerk, live 1973
Newly unearthed footage of Kraftwerk—with long hair and leather jackets! Live 1970
DEVO ‘busking’ on French TV, 1980